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    Tuesday, May 21, 2019-5:53:44A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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New law will increase efficiency in collecting traffic fines

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres has signed into law a measure that aims to increase government efficiency in collecting traffic fines.

Introduced by Rep. BJ Attao and other House members of the previous Legislature, House Bill 20-188 is now Public Law 20-90.

Its proponents said the current statutory framework on traffic offenses is overly confusing and duplicative.

“For example, when a police officer cites a driver for having an expired registration, the officer must choose between a number of related statutes, none of which clearly describe the prohibitive conduct.

“The lack of clarity and overlapping between various sections have resulted in widespread confusion at the Department of Public Safety, the Office of the Attorney General, and Superior Court over how these offenses should be cited.”

According to the new law, a number of offenses have also been “improperly classified as non-payable, carrying somewhat extraordinary penalties and potential terms of imprisonment.”

The new law noted that currently,  having “simple vehicle code infractions such as driving with an expired registration or failing to have flaps on motor trucks, etc., carry the potential for jail time, [and this] results in significant judicial inefficiency both in terms of time and cost to Commonwealth taxpayers. Non-payable offenses require the Office of the AG and the Office of the Public Defender to appear before the court judge even though the vast majority of said offenses are resolved by the mere payment of fine. Reducing a number of non-payable offenses to payable offenses merely codifies what actually occurs in practice while at the same time reducing the costs of enforcing the vehicle code.”

The current scheme frequently requires individuals to appear before the court three times or more to resolve a simple traffic citation.

“Attending one or more hearings requires a person to miss work, school, and or other important obligations. Converting some minor traffic infractions to payable ones will allow low level violators to more easily resolve their citations.”

The new law amends several sections related to registration, safety inspections and operator’s licenses. This will lead to standardized citation numbers “which will invariably enhance government efficiency.”

According to a judicial official who declined to be identified, the new law is long overdue.

“Ninety-nine percent of the traffic violators who appear in court just want to pay the fine. The new law will not generate additional revenue but it will reduce costs.”

Currently, the official added, the government has to spend hundreds of dollars just to collect a $50 fine.